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ambrose bierce Quotes

Ambrose Bierce Quotes

Birth Date: 1842-06-24 (Friday, June 24th, 1842)



    • Mark how my fame rings out from zone to zone: A thousand critics shouting: 'He's unknown!'
    • Peyton Fahrquhar was dead; his body, with a broken neck, swung gently from side to side beneath the timbers of the Owl Creek bridge.
    • To men a man is but a mind. Who cares What face he carries or what form he wears? But woman's body is the woman. O, Stay thou, my sweetheart, and do never go, But heed the warning words the sage hath said: A woman absent is a woman dead.
    • Abstainer, n. A weak person who yields to the temptation of denying himself a pleasure. A total abstainer is one who abstains from everything but abstention, and especially from inactivity in the affairs of others.
    • Absurdity, n. A statement or belief manifestly inconsistent with one's own opinion.
    • Accord, n. Harmony.
    • Accordion, n. An instrument in harmony with the sentiments of an assassin.
    • Acquaintance, n. A person whom we know well enough to borrow from, but not well enough to lend to. A degree of friendship called slight when its object is poor or obscure, and intimate when he is rich or famous
    • Admiration, n. Our polite recognition of another's resemblance to ourselves.
    • Advice, n. The smallest current coin.
    • Alone, adj. In bad company.
    • Apologize, v. To lay the foundation for a future offense.
    • Bacchus, n. A convenient deity invented by the ancients as an excuse for getting drunk.
    • Back, n. That part of your friend which it is your privilege to contemplate in your adversity.
    • Barometer, n. An ingenious instrument which indicates what kind of weather we are having.
    • Bore, n. A person who talks when you wish him to listen.
    • Brain, n. An apparatus with which we think what we think.
    • Bride, n. A woman with a fine prospect of happiness behind her.
    • Cabbage, n. A familiar kitchen-garden vegetable about as large and wise as a man's head.
    • Cannon, n. An instrument employed in the rectification of national boundaries.
    • Cat, n. A soft, indestructible automaton provided by nature to be kicked when things go wrong in the domestic circle.
    • Christian, n. One who believes that the New Testament is a divinely inspired book admirably suited to the spiritual needs of his neighbor. One who follows the teachings of Christ so long as they are not inconsistent with a life of sin.
    • Circus, n. A place where horses, ponies and elephants are permitted to see men, women and children acting the fool.
    • Clarionet, n. An instrument of torture operated by a person with cotton in his ears. There are two instruments that are worse than a clarionet -- two clarionets.
    • Congratulation, n. The civility of envy.
    • Conservative, n. A statesman enamored of existing evils, as opposed to a Liberal, who wants to replace them with others.
    • Corporation, n. An ingenious device for obtaining individual profit without individual responsibility.
    • Cynic, n. A blackguard whose faulty vision sees things as they are, not as they ought to be. Hence the custom among the Scythians of plucking out a cynic's eyes to improve his vision.
    • Dawn, n. The time when men of reason go to bed. Certain old men prefer to rise at about that time, taking a cold bath and a long walk with an empty stomach, and otherwise mortifying the flesh.
    • Defenceless, adj. Unable to attack.
    • Education, n. That which discloses to the wise and disguises from the foolish their lack of understanding.
    • Egotist, n. A person of low taste, more interested in himself than in me.
    • Electricity, n. The cause of all natural phenomena not known to be caused by something else. It is the same thing as lightning, and its famous attempt to strike Dr. Franklin is one of the most picturesque incidents in that great and good man's career.
    • Erudition, n. Dust shaken out of a book into an empty skull.
    • Faith, n. Belief without evidence in what is told by one who speaks without knowledge, of things without parallel.
    • Freebooter, n. A conqueror in a small way of business, whose annexations lack of the sanctifying merit of magnitude.
    • Freemason, n. An order with secret rites, grotesque ceremonies and fantastic costumes, which, originating in the reign of Charles II, among working artisans of London, has been joined successively by the dead of past centuries in unbroken retrogression until now it embraces all the generations of man on the hither side of Adam and is drumming up distinguished recruits among the pre-Creational inhabitants of Chaos and Formless Void. The order was founded at different times by Charlemagne, Julius Caesar, Cyrus, Solomon, Zoroaster, Confucious, Thothmes, and Buddha.
    • Friendless, adj. Having no favors to bestow. Destitute of fortune. Addicted to utterance of truth and common sense.
    • Generous, adj. Originally this word meant noble by birth and was rightly applied to a great multitude of persons. It now means noble by nature and is taking a bit of a rest.
    • Genealogy, n. An account of one's descent from an ancestor who did not particularly care to trace his own.
    • Happiness, n. An agreeable sensation arising from contemplating the misery of another.
    • Helpmate, n. A wife, or bitter half.
    • Hers, pron. His.
    • Idiot, n. A member of a large and powerful tribe whose influence in human affairs has always been dominant and controlling. The Idiot's activity is not confined to any special field of thought or action, but 'pervades and regulates the whole.' He has the last word in everything; his decision is unappealable. He sets the fashions and opinion of taste, dictates the limitations of speech and circumscribes conduct with a dead-line.
    • Infancy, n. The period of our lives when, according to Wordsworth, 'Heaven lies about us.' The world begins lying about us pretty soon afterward.
    • In'ards, n. pl. The stomach, heart, soul, and other bowels.
    • Insurrection, n. An unsuccessful revolution. Disaffection's failure to substitute misrule for bad government.
    • Justice, n. A commodity which in a more or less adulterated condition the State sells to the citizen as a reward for his allegiance, taxes and personal service.
    • Kilt, n. A costume sometimes worn by Scotchmen [sic] in America and Americans in Scotland.
    • Land, n. A part of the earth's surface, considered as property. The theory that land is property subject to private ownership and control is the foundation of modern society, and is eminently worthy of the superstructure. Carried to its logical conclusion, it means that some have the right to prevent others from living; for the right to own implies the right exclusively to occupy; and in fact laws of trespass are enacted wherever property in land is recognized. It follows that if the whole area of terra firma is owned by A, B and C, there will be no place for D, E, F and G to be born, or, born as trespassers, to exist.
    • Laughter, n. An interior convulsion, producing a distortion of the features and accompanied by inarticulate noises. It is infectious and, though intermittent, incurable.
    • Learning, n. The kind of ignorance distinguishing the studious.
    • Liberty, n. One of imagination's most precious possessions.
    • Logic, n. The art of thinking and reasoning in strict accordance with the limitations and incapacities of the human misunderstanding.
    • Love, n. A temporary insanity curable by marriage or by removal of the patient from the influences under which he incurred the disorder. This disease is prevalent only among civilized races living under artificial conditions; barbarous nations breathing pure air and eating simple food enjoy immunity from its ravages. It is sometimes fatal, but more frequently to the physician than to the patient.
    • Mad, adj. Affected with a high degree of intellectual independence; not conforming to standards of thought, speech, and action derived by the conformants [sic] from study of themselves; at odds with the majority; in short, unusual. It is noteworthy that persons are pronounced mad by officials destitute of evidence that they themselves are sane.
    • Marriage, n. The state or condition of a community consisting of a master, a mistress and two slaves, making in all, two.
    • Mayonnaise, n. One of the sauces that serve the French in place of a state religion.
    • Monday, n. In Christian countries, the day after the baseball game.
    • Neighbor, n. One whom we are commanded to love as ourselves, and who does all he knows how to make us disobedient.
    • Non-combatant, n. A dead Quaker.
    • Ocean, n. A body of water occupying about two-thirds of a world made for man -- who has no gills.
    • Once, adj. Enough.
    • Opportunity, n. A favorable occasion for grasping a disappointment.
    • Opposition, n. In politics the party that prevents the Government from running amok by hamstringing it.
    • Optimist, n. A proponent of the doctrine that black is white.
    • Patience, n. A minor form of despair, disguised as a virtue.
    • Philosophy, n. A route of many roads leading from nowhere to nothing.
    • Politeness , n. The most acceptable hypocrisy.
    • Politics, n. A strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles. The conduct of public affairs for private advantage.
    • Pray, v. To ask that the laws of the universe be annulled in behalf of a single petitioner confessedly unworthy.
    • Quotation, n. The act of repeating erroneously the words of another. The words erroneously repeated.
    • Rational, adj. Devoid of all delusions save those of observation, experience and reflection.
    • Religion, n. A daughter of Hope and Fear, explaining to Ignorance the nature of the Unknowable.
    • Resign, v. To renounce an honor for an advantage. To renounce an advantage for a greater advantage.
    • Road, n. A strip of land along which one may pass from where it is too tiresome to be to where it is futile to go.
    • Sabbath, n. A weekly festival having its origin in the fact that God made the world in six days and was arrested on the seventh.
    • Scriptures, n. The sacred books of our holy religion, as distinguished from the false and profane writings on which all other faiths are based.
    • Selfish, adj. Devoid of consideration for the selfishness of others.
    • Success, n. The one unpardonable sin against one's fellows.
    • Twice, adv. Once too often.
    • Un-American, adj. Wicked, intolerable, heathenish.
    • Virtues, n. pl. Certain abstentions.
    • Vote, v. The instrument and symbol of a freeman's power to make a fool of himself and a wreck of his country.
    • White, adj. and n. Black.
    • Year, n. A period of three hundred and sixty-five disappointments.
    • Youth, n. The Period of Possibility, when Archimedes finds a fulcrum, Cassandra has a following and seven cities compete for the honor of endowing a living Homer.
    • Zeal, n. A certain nervous disorder afflicting the young and inexperienced. A passion that goeth before a sprawl.
    • Woman would be more charming if one could fall into her arms without falling into her hands.
    • You are not permitted to kill a woman who has wronged you, but nothing forbids you to reflect that she is growing older every minute. You are avenged 1440 times a day.
    • Self-denial is indulgence of a propensity to forgo.
    • Think twice before helping a friend in need.
    • Calamities are of two kinds: misfortunes to ourselves, and good fortune to others.
    • Certain old men prefer to rise at dawn, taking a cold bath and a long walk with an empty stomach and otherwise mortifying the flesh. They then point with pride to these practices as the cause of their sturdy health and ripe years; the truth being that they are hearty and old, not because of their habits, but in spite of them. The reason we find only robust persons doing this thing is that it has killed all the others who have tried it.
    • Cogito cogito ergo cogito sum.
    • Death is not the end. There remains the litigation over the estate.
    • I keep a conscience uncorrupted by religion, a judgment undimmed by politics and patriotism, a heart untainted by friendships and sentiments unsoured by animosities.
    • In our civilization, and under our republican form of government, intelligence is so highly honored that it is rewarded by exemption from the cares of office.
    • Platonic Love is a fool's name for the affection between a disability and a frost.
    • Religions are conclusions for which the facts of nature supply no major premises.
    • The covers of this book are too far apart.
    • The fact that boys are allowed to exist at all is evidence of a remarkable Christian forbearance among men.
    • The ineffable dunce has nothing to say : embroidering it with reasonless vulgarities of attitudes, gestures and attire. There was never an impostor so hateful : a crank so variously stupid and dull. He makes me tired.
    • The gambling known as business looks with austere disfavor upon the business known as gambling.
    • There are four kinds of Homicide: felonious, excusable, justifiable, and praiseworthy.
    • War is God's way of teaching Americans geography.
    • ambrose bierce

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